A victim of domestic abuse has been left homeless and at risk after an eviction from her temporary accommodation by Southwark council yesterday.
Campaign group Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL) occupied Southwark council town hall this week to protest against the decision.
Despite evidence outlining the high risk she will face living on the street, the council proceeded with its decision to evict her.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The whole process has made me seriously ill, I’ve been bullied by council officials in the initial assessment and I’ve lost count of the eviction threats, there have been so many.
“They have lied about me and made me feel horrendous with their 17 page letters saying why they think I’m not vulnerable.”
The woman, who is now living on the streets, said the council’s treatment has been like suffering abuse all over again.
She added: “Going through this process is not for the faint hearted and it is only through support from others that I have not had a breakdown.
“The end result is that they have left a shell of a person from somebody already surviving abuse, mental health and recovery from addiction and other issues – it is in direct opposition to the council’s Solace campaign to support survivors.”
The group urged the council to drastically reassess how it supports victims of domestic violence into safe housing.
Councillor Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Modernisation pledged to improve support for domestic violence victims in November 2016, however HASL say this case clearly demonstrates how the system is failing to protect vulnerable women.
Councillor Ryan said: “I have been in contact with the lady concerned, and am confident that the council is doing everything we can to support her.”
She said the woman was offered accommodation in the private sector which she refused and that there is not enough council homes at the moment to accommodate her.
She added: “We will always struggle to meet demand. We have to prioritise, and in this case we are confident the resident’s immediate needs can be best met in the private sector.”
HASL said a private housing offer would deny the woman the long-term housing support she requires and would end her homelessness case which is in the process of appeal. The group is also campaigning to prevent another victim of domestic abuse from becoming homeless.
Elizabeth Wyatt, a member of the housing group, said: “The council’s assessment process has been degrading and traumatising for the women who have found their every action scrutinised and questioned and false information written about them.”
A SafeLives report from May 2018 found that 32% of women said experiences of domestic abuse led to them becoming homeless.
The evicted woman said: “I just hope none of them ever have to go through this in their life as wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
The 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, can provide support for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends and others calling on their behalf. The contact number is 0808 2000 247
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